On social democracy, that inexplicably unmentionable phrase that truly embodies the spirit of We, the People

This is one of those instances where even typing something out does little to make it more believable: Delta charges soldiers returning home from Afghanistan an additional luggage fee of $200 each (they are allowed three checked pieces, but as you’d imagine, members of our armed forces have a lot of bulky belongings that can’t be jammed into three bags).

And yet.

I think there is an important larger message here: Delta, as we all know, is a corporation. Supreme Court classifications to the contrary notwithstanding, corporations are simply amoral entities, built from paper and pixels, that do not think or feel one way or another about anything; rather, they just seek maximum profits, period. Think of them like sharks–they don’t care who gets hurt, they don’t care what standards of decency and propriety they offend (making soldiers pay extra for their baggage? Really??) and they don’t care who gets in the way; they only care about feeding, feeding, and more feeding.

For a conscientious human being, then, the question is not “How can Corporation XYZ be so uncaring?” but instead, “How far have we gone–and how much further are we willing to go–in allowing these amoral entities to control all the aspects of our daily existence?”

Right now, when you regard the matter with wide-open eyes, you realize that corporations control our elected leadership–much if not most of it, anyway–as well as our geopolitical posture, our banking system, our education system, our medical decisions, our agriculture and food supply, and, perhaps most worryingly, our very ability to elect candidates for public office who represent us, the people, as opposed to them, the aforementioned entities whose only raison d’être is to turn a profit.

Going by what I learned in high school American history, and what I’ve since observed about what I’d loosely term “the national character”, I’d say Americans tend to recoil at the very notion of being controlled and reflexively put a foot down if they feel that is what someone, or something, is trying to do.

As such, they shy away from–and often will outright demonize–the word “socialist”, because they see it as being under the controlling thumb of the state.

Blame the paucity of engaging, thought-provoking debates about political philosophy in our high school social studies classes; blame the shallow nature of the learning that does take place in a teach-to-the-test climate wherein facts are regurgitated and promptly forgotten; the end result is that far too many of us don’t seem to realize that we are the state.

Ironically, in a social democracy (which yes, is a form of socialism, albeit one that’s rather more grounded in reality than utopian socialism), we would be the ones in control.

As matters currently stand, we’re under the control of a plutocracy–and it’s an insidious, shadowy, “Aw shucks, we’re just like you” kind of plutocracy–with the difference being, the plutocracy is most definitely not us.

And on ever-increasing numbers of issues, we have virtually no say whatsoever, not even within the context of elections, wherein we get the false choice of voting for one beholden-to-corporations candidate over the other beholden-to-corporations candidate, and thanks to their professed differences on a handful of social issues (Roe, marriage equality, guns), we think we’ve had some say. We “feel” as though we have some measure of control.

We don’t.

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